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No Other Options: FSB Releases Documents on Hitler’s Death

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

The FSB of the Russian Federation made public documents on the death of Adolf Hitler. The FSB published the testimony of captive German Colonel Arthur Schwartz. He revealed to the Soviet investigation unique information about the last days of life of the leaders of the Third Reich, obtained from Hitler’s personal aide Otto Güntsche.

The Russian secret service publishes a statement given to the Soviet state security authorities by the former commander of the German mortar regiment, Colonel Arthur Schwartz. He reported that on May 10, 1945, SS Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche, who served as adjutant of the SS forces under Adolf Hitler, was placed in his cell. Schwartz told the Soviet law enforcement authorities that he had learned from Güntsche’s words about the events in Berlin in the spring of 1945.

“Hitler’s headquarters were in the bomb shelters of the imperial chancellery in Berlin. The military commandant of the city of Berlin was with his headquarters in the OUH buildings on Bendlerstrasse. Under Hitler, Dr. Goebbels and his family, Hitler’s party deputy Bormann, Hitler’s imperial youth leader Axmann, Chief of General Staff Kreps, General Burgdorf, Chief of Adjutant General and Chief of Army Personnel, SS Lieutenant General Fenketin (?) were in the headquarters until the last moment. [As stated in the document], the latter was shot on the verdict of a field court for attempted desertion,” Schwartz said in a statement.

Schwarz also shared with the Soviet investigation the information received from Güncher about the fate of some other people close to Hitler: Bormann died in a firefight, Kreps, Burgdorf and Axmann committed suicide.

“Also Goebbels, along with his entire family, committed suicide after Hitler’s death. Goebbels’ wife, before her death, saying goodbye to Günsche, told him that ‘the way the Führer did it, he should not have done it. It would have been completely inconceivable that Goebbels’ family would have lived at Goering’s mercy,” the German officer said in a statement.

The colonel, referring to Güntsche’s words, claimed that Hitler had committed suicide on April 30; he was afraid of falling into the hands of the Russians.

“On the night of April 28-29, Hitler arranged his marriage in secret with a woman of about 35, whom he had known for about 15 years and with whom he met from time to time in Berlin or in Selzberg (Berchtesgaden). Fifteen minutes before she died, this woman also said goodbye to Güntsche… The corpses were carried from the bomb shelter of the Imperial Chancellery to a bonfire laid out in the courtyard, doused with gasoline and burned. The chauffeur, the aviator and Hitler’s valet took part in the burning of the corpses besides Güncher. Günsche, along with a number of other SS commanders, made an attempt to break through on May 1, 1945, initially walking through the subway tunnels to Friedrichstrasse Station, and then through yards and breaches to the Pankow area, where they encountered Soviet tanks on May 2. They became aware of the surrender of the Berlin garrison on May 2, and since they could not muster soldiers to break through, they surrendered,” Schwartz recounted what he heard from Hitler’s aide-de-camp.

According to Güntsche, there was no clear and unified leadership in Germany at the end of the war. Hermann Göring declared himself Hitler’s successor on April 22, 1945, citing the fact that the Nazi Führer was incapable of making independent decisions. However, according to Güncher, Göring himself had no authority among the German population. For his part, Heinrich Himmler established links with the Western powers, for which he was removed from office by Hitler and expelled from the Party. Where Himmler was afterwards, Güncher did not know, but referred to rumors of his flight abroad.

“Hitler had no more confidence in his SS troops either. The first great rupture and loss of trust occurred after the SS Panzer Army under Dietrich unsuccessfully conducted operations in the Budapest area. For these failures Hitler deprived them of the arm badges of the division ‘Adolf Hitler’, ‘Reich’ and others, and the commander-in-chief Dietrich fell into disgrace,” Schwarz noted in his statement.

Schwarz subsequently made a number of amendments and additions to his statement. He said that during the interrogation about the fate of Hitler, Güncher initially tried to conceal the truth of the situation and gave evasive answers. However, at the interrogation in Moscow on May 12, 1945, he told everything as it was, giving 16 pages of testimony. He then shared with his cellmates further details of the April events in Berlin.

“He went on to tell us the following: Hitler stated that he did not want to be captured in any way, either alive or dead, and therefore intended to commit suicide. Only a few of those around him were privy to this. It was planned to move the headquarters to Berchtesgaden (Oberwalburg). The first echelon of the headquarters had already gone there before the storming of Berlin began. This echelon included almost all the adjutants, so that at the end only Güncher and Burgdorf remained in Berlin. Hitler did not agree with this decision, because he believed that the three armies (Busse, Wenck, Schreiner) could still save Berlin,” reads the addendum to Schwartz’s testimony.

According to Güntsche, in the last time before his death Hitler held himself in such a way that one could conclude that he was broken mentally.

“Moreover, along with the news that the ring around Berlin had failed, he was greatly influenced by a telegram from Göring in which the latter appointed himself his successor, and also by the news of Himmler’s impromptu negotiations,” Schwarz specified his retelling of Güncher’s words.

According to Güntsche, Hitler saw no point in moving his bet anywhere. He felt abandoned by his comrades-in-arms. The adjutant did not hear from Hitler any statements about the general situation or the future of Germany. Only calls to “hold out to the last man” were heard.

“Hitler committed suicide on 30/IV, Hitler’s wife said goodbye to Güntsche shortly before, as I reported earlier. Hitler and his wife committed suicide in their bomb shelter in the imperial chancellery, where Hitler allegedly ordered his valet to lock himself in. The corpses were taken through the emergency exit to the courtyard, where they were placed on a fire, doused with gasoline and burned,” Schwartz clarified his earlier testimony.

The colonel describes in great detail the last journey of the Nazi Führer from the words of Hitler’s aide-de-camp;

“First Hitler’s body was carried out, he lay on a stretcher and was covered with a blanket. Güntsche alone saw his corpse being carried out. The corpse of his wife was carried out immediately after him. Güntsche saw the face of Hitler’s wife. He could not see Hitler’s face as it was covered by a blanket, but his legs were hanging off the stretcher and Güntsche unmistakably recognized Hitler’s shoes, socks and pants. When the fire was lit, Güntsche retreated to the shelter and was no longer present for the burning, as it had affected him greatly. Güntsche said that Goebbels, Krebs and Burgdorf knew about it (who else knew about it is unknown),” Schwartz noted in his statement.

The day after Hitler’s death the shelter under the Imperial Chancellery was abandoned by those who had been hiding there before.

Günsche told fellow inmates that the circle of those who were with Hitler in the last days of his life was narrow. The highest party and state authorities had evacuated to the West before the attack on Berlin, and only small operational headquarters remained in the capital of the Third Reich. Just before the encirclement of Berlin these headquarters left the city in passenger cars.

Güncher also said that he had heard of Hitler’s preparation of a political will, according to which Karl Dönitz would become head of state and Joseph Goebbels would become Reich Chancellor.

“Communication with the Stack after the encirclement was carried out only by radio. From about April 23rd the antennas were often damaged, and in the last days there was no more communication. There was not even any communication with the head of the Berlin garrison in Bendlerstrasse. The mood of everyone was very depressed, as there was nothing else to hope for. Those prominent figures who had gone to the West, such as Keitel, Ribbentrop and Ley, were resented and sharply criticized. The behavior of Göring and Himmler was particularly resented,” noted in Schwartz’s testimony.

According to historians, the materials made public by the FSB are the most important source of information about the last days of Hitler’s regime. Researchers have not yet been able to restore with absolute accuracy all the details of these events, and this contributes to the emergence of conspiracy theories, in particular regarding the possible flight of Hitler from Germany.

“Adolf Hitler survived many attempts on his life and was a skilled political fighter, so many people found it difficult to believe that he could have simply committed suicide. Nevertheless, we have no reason to believe that the Nazi Führer survived the war. According to numerous testimonies, in 1945 he was in a terrible physical condition. He would not have survived the long journey. All talk of his flight is an attempt to gain cheap popularity,” said Dmitry Surzhik, senior researcher at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a conversation with .

According to him, Hitler’s death effectively put an end to the history of the Third Reich, as the Dönitz regime that followed was unviable and no longer solved anything.

“History developed in such a way that Hitler had no other options but to take his own life,” said Maxim Sinitsyn, a graduate student at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in a commentary for .

The historian noted that although there are white spots in the circumstances of Hitler’s death, there is every reason to believe that the Nazi Fuhrer died on April 30, 1945. And all available documents of the Soviet secret services, including materials from the Baur case, point to that.

“Hitler’s death and the dissemination of information about it marked the end of the fascist project in Europe,” Sinitsyn concluded.

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